Friday, March 2, 2012

No Amnesty for Former Guatemalan Dictator

A judge in Guatemala has rejected the claim that former dictator Efrain Rios Montt is protected under an amnesty law from being tried on charges of genocide.

Rios Montt, 85, was in power from 1982 to 1983 when some of the country’s worst civil war atrocities occurred, including the murder, torture and displacement of thousands of indigenous Mayans.  For the past 12 years, Mr. Rios Montt served as a congressman and enjoyed immunity from prosecution. However, this immunity was lifted on 14 January 2012, when he lost a re-election race last year.

A news release from the United Nations states that Judge Miguel Angel Galvez ruled the amnesty law is invalid because of a 1949 international treaty against genocide that Guatemala signed long before the amnesty was declared. 

This ruling “appears to open the door to striking down amnesty for anyone accused of genocide related to the country’s 36-year civil war, in which around 200,000 people are believe to have been killed,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  Speaking to reporters in Geneva, he reiterated OHCHR’s position regarding amnesties, affirming that they should never be granted for serious international crimes.

(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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